How to Prepare If a House Near Yours Is Going to Be Demolished

You've heard the news: A house in your neighborhood is going to be torn down to make way for a newer home or development. If it is very close to your home, you may be concerned about what impact this will have on the integrity of your house. Here's what to do to prepare.

  • Get copies of the building and demolition permits. These will have the name of the builder or developer, the construction or demolition company, and the insurance company. Just in case you have problems that you believe were caused by demolition, you'll know who to talk to. In addition, a demolition permit usually must be signed by a structural engineer or architect. Call that person if you have questions about the integrity of your home during the demolition. They may be required to inspect your home pre- and post-demolition, if you ask.
  • Document the condition of your home before and during the demolition. Vibrations from the construction or demolition process may cause damage to your house. Take well-lit, high-quality photos of your exterior and interior walls -- especially basement walls -- and your foundation. If you have any concrete structures like a walkway or patio, get before images of these as well. Immediately following the demolition, take another set of photos to record any damage. Make sure all the photos are dated, either physically or digitally. If you have questions at this point, you may want to call the city and request that a neutral building inspector stop by and examine any damage that you've spotted.
  • During demolition, keep all your doors and windows tightly closed. Not only will it keep out dust, but it can keep things like asbestos fibers from entering your home. If you are especially concerned about asbestos because of the age of the home being demolished, ask the building owner to provide copies of the asbestos inspection, which is usually required before demolition is approved.
  • Take everything off the walls and pack up fragile items before the demolition. It may not cause any issues, but there may be some vibrations that could cause your items to be damaged. It's best to be cautious so you avoid losing anything that is meaningful to you.
  • Cover any outdoor furniture or artwork or move it into a covered and protected area. You don't want it to be covered with dust from the demolition, if there should be some.
  • Watch for rodents and other pests in the days to follow. If, for example, the demolished house was not occupied for some time, it may have had animals like rats living in it. Once the demolition occurs, those animals who escape may come to your home looking for a new place to reside. Check your house for any holes and patch them immediately. Also, keep traps handy and watch for any droppings or other signs of pest activity.
  • If you suspect that there has been any damage to your home, it might make sense to hire a lawyer immediately. Though you will have to pay for his or her time, and the situation may be resolved quickly, it will be nice to have legal representation if the owner of the demolished building doesn't believe the work done had an impact on your property.

Chances are that your home will be just fine. Most demolition companies, ones like Honc Destruction, are very cautious and their contractors have years of experience. But it is always best to be prepared for a demolition project and be watchful that your home is not affected in any way.